Alejandro URIBE and the Medellin (Colombia) solar balloon festival
last changed : 12/12/2007
There is in the south America (especially in Brazil) a hot air balloon tradition
(sometime more than 60 m tall). They are made of silk paper or Kraft, built
by the population. Those balloons are a part of the local popular art.
They are also part of lot of big fair. Those balloon are all size and shape, carry banners, during the night they are illuminated by a candela . Hanged under there is a gas burner that heat up the air into the balloon. Kids and adults to follow the balloons during the and try to be the first to catch it when they are back on the ground. But those balloon can start big fire (forest fire, household fire , etc.). In Brazil, the police forbid those balloon, building them is outlaw since 1998, but the "baloeiros" (the balloon maker) cling to their traditions... They secretly continue to build giant paper balloon and they launch their dream over the neighborhood ...
In December 1995, a paper balloon as set a fire that totally destroyed the
Renault industrial plant : la SOFASA. Sins then, the police destroy all balloon
under construction and forbid all flight. But the tradition still continue under
Alejandro URIBE retained the memory a gimmick that vas given with the milk packs back in the eighties : a cylindrical solar balloon (same as Pif Gadget). Then he tried to make the tradition evolve from the paper balloon to the solar. He use polyethylene which is much more efficient to pickup the sun energy than silk paper.
In 1998, he made a 5 m solar balloon assembling black trash bags, one of those balloon with a reflective part have been mistaken for an UFO and caused a great fear in the population.
He latter noticed that he could use colored polyethylene and non symmetrical shapes.
For the 21st century, the 31 December 1999, he inflate a polyethylene structure
135m long 250 kg weight and 17 km of adhesive tape !. The audience is large,
the press and TV are also there. For the custom, a musician play flute into
the balloon to bring chance on. The balloon rise a few time loosing it's shape,
then end up by a take off and a flight above the town. But a huge hole cause
the balloon crashed and joined some power lines,
nevertheless this one could fly for 15 minutes all over the city and then it fell.
Then the balloon was recovered really broken, but in 20 days it was fixed again and it was flown on january 23th of 2000 and succesfully !
This is the bigger balloon ever made (even if it is not in the Guiness book).
Alejandro later made many different shapes. After many hours of building those, balloon ar inflated, exposed to the sun an take off.... Like this an airplane pilot reported that he had sight of one of the whale launched by Alejandro !
To perpetuate the tradition of the balloon festival, Alejandro organized in 2001 and 2002 the solar balloon festival. He is now getting ready for the one of end 2003. This festival is sponsored by some companies and by the government.
Alejandro Alejandro also made a solar balloon capable to lift human following the advice of Laurent Besset.
Meanwhile to the balloon, Alejandro and his wife Maxcelia MONTILLA produce shows into inflatable structure. This way they unite the a passion of Maxcelia for la dancing and Alejandro for the balloon and graphic creations.
See also the BIMANA site : BIMANA